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Healthy Living

The Olympic Hangover Is REAL

Pushing your bedtime back -- even for Michael Phelps -- can have serious consequences.
Spain's Carolina Marin celebrates her gold-medal badminton win Friday. Also how we all feel the morning after watching one too many Usain Bolt triple-triples...
Spain's Carolina Marin celebrates her gold-medal badminton win Friday. Also how we all feel the morning after watching one too many Usain Bolt triple-triples...

You told yourself you’d call it a night after Usain Bolt’s 200-meter dash. But then NBC cut into the men’s beach volleyball final, Brazil vs. Italy. And the next thing you knew, you were listening to Bob Costas’ “LochteGate” update as the clock struck midnight.

You knew what you had coming the next morning: Trouble focusing, dry eyes and the overwhelming urge to just sneak in another hour or two of sleep. All evidence that the “Olympic hangover” is real.

There are a million ways to justify this sleeplessness, right? The games only come every other year!

This is the last time you can watch Michael Phelps dominate. How can you not watch?

And there’s a gold-medal winning, tandem-bicycle-riding couple? #Relationshipgoals.

How can you go to sleep when these ladies are ruling the world?

Kristi Castlin, Brianna Rollins and Nia Ali all of team USA win bronze, gold and silver in the 100-meter hurdles. 
Kristi Castlin, Brianna Rollins and Nia Ali all of team USA win bronze, gold and silver in the 100-meter hurdles. 

But as we near the end of week two of the games, it’s okay to admit feeling a little bit glad the end is near. We can look forward to a little bit more sleep next week.

And yes, that extra hour or two really matters

Research shows even pushing bedtime back just two hours each night for a week can have the same effects on your cognitive performance ― memory, alertness and attention ― as not sleeping for full two nights.

“Attention, creativity and insight can all be impaired by not getting enough sleep, either acutely or chronically,” Mathias Basner, professor of sleep and chronobiology at the University of Pennsylvania, told The Huffington Post ― not to mention a host of other health factors that can suffer from too few zs.

The bottom line: “Your cognitive performance will be affected ― even by losing a little sleep,” Basner said. “It’s not really negligible.”

Maybe that’s why the U.S. swim team made sleep training part of prepping for their 10 p.m. races... The team pushed their practices and meals later, banned screens before bed and brought eye masks, earplugs and their own blackout curtains to Rio to make sure they got the best sleep possible when they did hit their pillows.

But even if you didn’t sleep train for the two-week Olympic-watching sprint ― don’t feel too bad about enjoying the two weeks of events. After all, when else do countries from across the globe peacefully gather and showcase their superhuman abilities.

Sarah DiGiulio is The Huffington Post’s sleep reporter. You can contact her at sarah.digiulio@huffingtonpost.com.

For more Olympics coverage:

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